Three Mile Island 1 To Close In September

Exelon Generation confirmed this week that it would be closing down Three Mile Island Generating Station’s Unit 1 (TMI 1) reactor 15 years ahead of schedule due to the lack of support from the state in an era of strong economic headwinds for nuclear power.

Three Mile Island NPPTMI 1 will close down Sept. 30 this year, as previously announced in May 2017. With only three legislative session days remaining in May, the company said, it was clear that neither the house or the senate of Pennsylvania would move forward on House Bill 11 or Sentate Bill 510, which were deemed necessary to save the plant from closure.

The company had set the deadline of June 1 of this year for the state to support the plant and others in the state based on its ability to produce carbon emissions-free energy in the era of global warming.

Unit 1 is an 819 (net) MWe pressurized water reactor that has been online since September 1974. It is part of the same facility in which Unit 2 was damaged in 1979 in a accident that contributed to the country’s fears of what was then known as “the China Syndrome” in which, hypothetically, a nuclear plant meltdown would be so hot it would melt through the planet and come out on the opposite side. A movie of that name was released in 1979 adding to the county’s phobia about nuclear power.

“Although we see strong support in Harrisburg and throughout Pennsylvania to reduce carbon emissions and maintain the environmental and economic benefits provided by nuclear energy, we don’t see a path forward for policy changes before the June 1 fuel purchasing deadline for TMI,” said Kathleen Barron, Exelon senior vice president for government and regulatory affairs and public policy.

Barron noted that there were eight other zero-carbon nuclear units operating in the state “that provide around-the-clock clean energy, avoiding millions of tons of carbon emissions every year.”

She said the company would continue to work with legislatures in a push to formulate policy that could support the state’s nuclear units. 

In the meantime, FirstEnergy has also announced that it would close Beaver Valley’s two reactors in 2021 if no appropriate support was passed to forestall that decision.

Exelon Generation filed the federally required Post Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The plan calls for a staff reduction down to 50 full-time employees by 2022. In the filing, Exelon Generation selected the “SAFSTOR” decommissioning process which allows for the a holding period before dismantling begins. The plan is to begin active decommissioning in 2074, the company said.

Last month, Exelon Generation filed the federally required Post Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report detailing plans for TMI after its final shutdown, including transitioning staff in three phases down to 50 full-time employees by 2022. In the filing, Exelon Generation selected “SAFSTOR,” one of three decommissioning options for the plant, and outlined a plan to dismantle large components, including the station’s cooling towers, beginning in 2074.

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